Legal Fiction

Remaking The Queen vs Dudley and Stephens


Author: Saher Hanif Sheikh, second year student at Maniben Nanavati Womens’ College 

Necessity is a shameless indeed! It makes one go through terrible phases of life. People neglect their relationships in the name of need. Basic necessity of a human being is food, cloth and shelter. Among this people can survive with two pairs of clothes and without shelter sometimes. But food is a must. Skipping a meal makes you go mad. Can you imagine not eating for days? Not having a proper meal for twenty fine days! Food is a necessity indeed, but how far one can go to escape death from hunger.

Richard Parker, a young seventeen years old English seamen along with his three companions Dudley, Stephens and Brooks were sailing in a boat. None of them knew that their return journey would not be an easy one. They never knew they would return being sinners. In the middle of the ocean, 1600 miles away from land, these seamen were shipwrecked. Unexpected tribulations leave individuals in chaos. Likewise, with these sailors. Not knowing where they will head up, they kept swimming. As they were seamen, it was not that difficult for them to handle this situation as it would have been for a non swimmer. Finally, these castaways came to an island. Islands are beautiful places to visit and enjoy for a few hours. It has never been a place to live for more than twenty four hours. But these seamen had no other choice but to stay on that island. For how long? No one knew. Sitting on the island helpless, not knowing what to do next? Who will come for their rescue? If someone will ever come or not? They looked at each other with sadness and fear. Islands don’t grow fresh vegetables, fruits or grains. They didn’t have anything with them at all. No supply of water, no supply of food from anywhere. They didn’t even expect any of the things as they knew how islands are supposed to be. The only thing they had with them was two 1 lbs of turnips. Not even a kilogramme. Four seamen with 2 lbs of turnips were stuck on an island. They never knew how long these turnips would last. The only thing they knew was this is the only thing they have for their survival until they find something else to eat. This was the very first day of theirs on the island. They distributed the turnips into equal shares. Everyone kept their share safe. Their mental and physical strength started getting disturbed. This was just the beginning! They had no clock, no calendar with them. The only screen they had in front of them was sunset, sunrise and water. The sun departed and they didn’t sleep yet. Well how could they sleep in this terrible condition. Innumerable questions arose in their mind unless a merciful sleep overtook them. All of them slept, but obviously this was not supposed to be a restful sleep. They were starving, sleeping in this condition was quite challenging. It was noon time when everyone woke up.

The sun was right above Their head and with this they knew it was 12 pm. The very first thing humans do after waking up is brush their teeth and wash their face. But these seamen in spite of being normal humans got up and searched for their share of turnips which was kept safe by each one of them. This shows what a struggling state they all were in. They had a little food but water is also essential for a human to live. Well, they had plenty of water around them upon which they can subsist on for life time. But this water wasn’t potable water. This was salty water which will deteriorate their health instead of benefiting them. It has been more than 24 hours that they were surviving without water. They had no other choice and drank the salty water which was there right in front of them. In Spite of knowing the disadvantages of drinking salty water they drank more than it was necessary. This is exactly what a necessity does. Some action we do in the state of necessity and it harms us in the long run. They were so thirsty that they filled their stomachs with this water. Time passed by and they realised they were getting sick , but they couldn’t help their own selves. Each one of them had only one constant thought in their mind and that was help from God. They silently prayed in their heart either for a miracle to happen or someone came for their rescue. By the end of this day they only had a trust in their prayers to be fulfilled by God.

The next day was just as same as the previous day, no changes at all except for their rampancy in their prayers. Someone truly said, it is in the most difficult time of ours when we remember God like never before. We only get up and pray after a calamity has befallen us. These seamen now hoped for nothing except for their prayers to get answered. The day passed and their share of turnips got over. Seawater was their only surviving unit at this time. Because of their weaknesses growing more inside and outside they decided to avoid sea water as much as possible. Because these seamen knew that the sea water does nothing but damages our body from inside as we humans cannot have salt more than required. Seawater is toxic to humans as your body is unable to get rid of salt that comes from sea water. Imagining this situation Isn’t easy , How difficult it would be to live in this situation! Here comes the fourth day and no food again. They got a chance to catch a small turtle and they did. They all looked calm and deeply content. This turtle yields about 3 pounds of meat which was divided among them equally. They thought their prayers reached God and they will be helped more. Nobody has the knowledge of unseen, no one knows how long they would have to rely on a share of turtles to subsist on. Not only the meat, the bones and blood were also divided among them so that each one has an equal share of food. Their condition here cannot be captured in words. What this crew was going through was tremendously difficult. Calling this situation ‘Tremendously difficult’ would also not give justice to their physical, mental and spiritual state.

It was the fifth day, a new day of hope like we say. But no hopes for this seamen. There was barely any difference between the fourth, fifth and sixth day. Yes, there were changes in their health. It didn’t grow better, it got worse. They became skinny, so much so that their bones started showing a little bit. Eating meat, bones and turtle blood had to end someday. No food lasts forever and the turtle was consumed fully by the twelfth day. For nine days they ate Turtle, not a whole Turtle but a share of it. A small share!

On the twelfth day, it started pouring and they drank rain water. Rain water is drinkable and gives energy too. They drank this water as much as they could. An idea popped up in their mind and they thought,” why aren’t we collecting this rainwater??” They all rushed towards their oil skip capes and started collecting rainwater because they had no idea if it would rain tomorrow or not. This rain water was no less than a blessing to them. Day passed and by the end of the next day that is the thirteenth day Their rain water was consumed fully. At this moment they were quite hungry and thirsty too. There’s a quote which says, ‘a hungry stomach and an empty pocket teaches the best lesson’ and it did to these seamen. No food, no water, no hope, no help, only prayers to subsist on and a hope to find someone who might come for their rescue.

It was the fourteenth day and they were dehydrated. A man can tolerate hunger till some extent but not thirst. Though they didn’t have any food since the last two days they tried Their best to tolerate their hunger but they failed to do this with their thirst. Their thirst was not letting them live in peace. Drinking sea water at this moment was just another name to call death. Seawater did no good to them. They were in the state that if given a choice they would choose death over sea water. They all felt dizzy, though they have gone through this dizziness a lot of time on this island but at this moment it was not possible to bear. The only liquid now they had around them was their own urine. Drinking water which is kept in a bottle for the last 5 days isn’t possible by a normal human, imagine drinking urine. Something which is so useless that the body removes it as a waste. Their mental state at this moment is impossible to capture in words. They were filled with mixed emotions. They were sad, wanted to cry out loud, wanted a little bit of peace, not at all satisfied with what they were about to do. They collect their urine in Their oilskin capes and then they close their eyes and nose and drink their urine. They really did this next to impossible task. This deed was so demanding that it felt to be a punishment to them for their previous sins. They drank their own urine without giving a thought to what consequences it can bring to them. Their dizziness, their drowsiness, their inner illness, their fatigue forced them to do this act.

Days passed by and it was eighteenth day , five days without food and water. Stephens and Dudley were very unwell. Parker was ill too but he was more sick than these two as he was a young lad. He was just lying on the island with closed eyes. He was almost half dead. Dudley and Stephen discussed what to be done next. They came up with the conclusion to kill someone amongst them so as others to survive. One had to become a sacrificial victim in order to feed others. Now the question was who was to be killed. They decided to draw lots but they dropped this idea because of some reason. They were so sick that they didn’t even have the strength to think and finally Dudley came up with an idea, not an idea he came up with an evil plan. He told the other seamen that Parker is already I’ll and is getting worse minute by minute. He should be killed as he doesn’t have a family who rely on him. We all have wife and children and he has no responsibility. Even if he dies it won’t bother anyone. Killing Parker before his natural death was not easy. Dudley and Stephen were mad wolf at this moment they didn’t realize what they were going to do. Killing their own companion! With whom they have been so many days on this island, faced hunger, faced tribulations and trials, went through all this being United and now they were going to kill him. Discussing this they fell asleep.

Next morning Dudley and Stephen woke up before noon. They were literally starving. They both sighted towards Parker and saw his deteriorating state. Dudley made signs to Stephens that the boy had better be killed. They both looked at Parker, who was lying down quite helpless, extremely weakened by famine and drinking sea water. He didn’t have in his wildest dreams that he will be killed by his companions before his natural death. He never expected to be deceived by his companions. He felt someone coming closer to him. He felt low whispers but didn’t pay any heed because he thought they were his companions approaching him. He never thought that he was taking his last breaths. He heard footsteps coming closer to him. He didn’t know that those footsteps were the last voice he was hearing in this world. Parker never imagined life to be so horrible with him. Dudley was about to kill Parker but before committing this rash act they offered a prayer. No matter what they were up to they knew they were doing something wrong. They were committing a sin, taking a life. They prayed to God asking forgiveness for committing this sin. So that their soul might be saved. Because every soul in this world believes in Karma! One has to pay for whatever he does. Parker opened his eyes slowly, even before he could utter a word Dudley pushed his knife into Parker’s jugular vein killing him then and there. They fed upon the body and blood of the boy for the following days up until they were rescued by a passing vessel. These seamen were alive but in the lowest state of prostration.

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